Work six years then retire

There is lots of talk these days about the looming worker shortage in northern B.C.

Bill Phillips

Prince George Free Press

There is lots of talk these days about the looming worker shortage in northern B.C.

The message is get into the trades, there will be plenty of work. But if you really want to make some serious coin, become an MP. If you’re young, get elected now, serve a couple of terms so you can get your pension, and you’re set for life. You can then go on and do whatever you’ve been trained to do.

The extremely lucrative MP pension plan is in the news again, thanks to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, which has been flogging this horse for decades.

Leaders and parties agree when they’re in the run up to being elected, but once in power seem to back away from making any substantive changes to the system that, by any stretch of the imagination, is pork-barrelling.

“In 2009/10, MPs and senators contributed $4.4 million to both pension accounts,” states the Canadian Taxpayers Federation report, “while total expenditures of both accounts amounted to $46.8 million.  Therefore, sitting MPs and senators contributed $1.00 in 2010 for every $10.64 that was paid out to their presently retired colleagues. To summarize, taxpayers contribute $23.30 for every $1 that parliamentarians do, but parliamentarians currently receive $10.64 for every $1 that they contribute.”

We, the taxpayer, contribute $23 for every $1 that MPs do. Astounding.

What always amazes me is that those who scream the loudest about fiscal responsibility are usually those on the right side of the political spectrum but they are also often the ones with their hands deepest in the taxpayers’ pockets. Imagine if the Public Service Alliance of Canada came to the bargaining table with a proposal for the Government of Canada to contribute $23 to union members’ pensions for every dollar the government does. The howls of indignation and tough talk would be astounding.

However, that seems to be fine for the MPs.

So how do our local MPs fare?

Well, Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer is a rookie, elected last year. He’ll have to serve until 2017 to be eligible (barring any sanity and guts arriving on Parliament Hill and changes being made).

Cariboo-Prince George MP Dick Harris, on the other hand, was first elected in 1993 and was qualified for his pension was Jean Chretien was still in power.

According to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation report, if Harris retired after this term in office in 2015, he would be eligible for an annual pension of $118,236.  The lifetime payout is estimated to be just over $1.1 million. If he stayed on for another term to 2019,  he would be eligible for a pension of $119,284 per year with a lifetime payout of just over $600,000.

In fairness, that would be for 26 years of service, which is a long time to spend at any job.

To the west, NDP leadership hopeful Nathan Cullen, if he serves until 2015, will be eligible for an annual pension of $53,819, with an estimated lifetime payout of $1.7 million. Because he is younger than Harris and has served less time, his annual pension would be less but he would collect it over a longer period of time so he would receive more.

No one is against MPs receiving a pension for their time in office or that the government, like any employer, contributes to that pension. However, it should be more in line with what is paid in the private sector. After all, isn’t that what our politicians tell us should be the case when the unionized workers want more money?